Jagdeo to consult Hoyte on appointment of Chancellor

Stabroek News
April 27, 2001

President Bharrat Jagdeo expects to consult with PNC REFORM leader, Desmond Hoyte, shortly so as to be in a position to appoint a Chancellor of the Judiciary by the end of the month.

Under the present constitutional arrangement, the President does not have to get Hoyte's agreement for his choice. However, under the amendment proposed and scheduled to be enacted when parliament convenes, he would be required to do so.

On Tuesday, following a meeting with Hoyte, the two announced that they had agreed that the term of the incumbent, Justice Cecil Kennard OR, would not be extended beyond April 30, the date to which it had been lengthened in January with the agreement of Hoyte. Justice Kennard attained the age of 65 in January. Under the constitutional reforms to be enacted when the National Assembly convenes, the term of office would not be extended beyond the retirement age which had been raised to 65 for High Court judges and 68 for Court of Appeal judges.

Widely tipped for the post of Chancellor is Chief Justice Desiree Bernard, Guyana's first female judge and first female chief justice in the Caribbean. If Justice Bernard is appointed to the top judicial post, she would be the first woman to hold that position since it was created some 31 years ago.

Her successor as Chief Justice is not as clear cut with the front runners being Court of Appeal judges, Claudette Singh and Carl Singh. Justice Claudette Singh is the most senior High Court judge. However, informed sources have told Stabroek News that there is a precedent for not appointing the most senior judge, citing the case of Justice Keith Massiah who was made Chancellor ahead of then Chief Justice, Kenneth George.